Most recently, Taraji P. Henson celebrated the launch of her nonprofit organization, The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named in honor of her late father.
The foundation is focused on eradicating stigmas surrounding mental health, particularly as they relate to the African-American community. During her fundraising event, Henson touched on her and her son’s own personal struggles with mental health following the deaths of both his and her father, respectively.
Henson explained that when she was looking for a psychiatrist for her son it was a struggle to find “someone that he could trust, someone that looks like him and could understand his struggle,” she noted, per Variety, adding that “they wouldn’t be African American and it wouldn’t get anything accomplished because he felt guilty for the things he was saying.”
“It was like looking for a unicorn, and the reason that happens is that we don’t talk about it in our community; it’s taboo,” added Henson.”It’s looked upon as a weakness or we’re demonized for expressing rage for traumas we’ve been through. I have a lot of white friends and that’s what got me going. They say, ‘You don’t talk to anybody? Girl, I’m going to see my shrink every Thursday at 3 o’clock.’ So I was like why don’t we do that in our community?”
The actress went on to stress the importance of having celebrities speak out about mental health because of “the misconception about celebrities that we have it all together and we’re perfect and we’re not. Our kids aren’t perfect, we’re suffering and struggling just like the regular person and money doesn’t help. I thank God I can pay for the psychiatry bill but it doesn’t necessarily take away the problems.”
“I’m here to tell you that when they tell cut and the cameras go away, I go home to real problems just like everybody else,” she added. “People go, “Oh wow she’s going through it? Well, I’m alright then’.”
Money raised from the event will go toward the foundation’s first mission, to bring art to the bathrooms of inner-city schools to help combat depression, bullying, and suicide. Henson explains that school bathrooms are where fights and jumps happen.
“That’s where you got bullied because the teachers weren’t in there, so I thought that was a great thing to do to flip it. You go there to get your head together and instead of seeing hate stuff or whatever madness kids put in there, we decided to turn it into art.”